Friday, June 3, 2011


I’m one of those people who can’t remember where I place day to day things or memorize people’s names but I have a really good memory for stories and things people say to me. Like most people, I have received and responded to many “messages” in my life experience that have shaped me in various ways. I am sharing some of the messages I’m processing still from the last year or so that have some kind of imprint in day to day journeying, the way I engage the world, the way I think and feel….

Part of my life these days is about trying to find some kind of peace, resolution, or just a way to deal with or respond to these messages.

Many of the sources for the “messages” that float to me are from my environment but some come from some parts inside of me as well.

“I’m not saying that that’s the way it’s supposed to be, I’m just saying that’s how it is, there are just some tables that you won’t get invited to”

“Those “associations”, they say they care, they just come, they ask as questions, they say they will come back, but they don’t care”

“I want to do something about it, tell me what I can do. There are people in our community who know people, and those people know more people, they can do something”

“A Canadian, is a Canadian, is a Canadian”

“Let us talk to our youth from a position of strength”

“So educate me, what is cultural specificity? And if I support you, who else do I have to support?”

“Thank you for your pure volunteerism”

“This place is a colony, I woke up one day and was like, oh my God, we are living in Africa 1959. Where are the indigenous people? Out of site and poor! This place never went through any kind of independence and they are proud of it!”

“We must cut debt, we must care for the poor, we must do these thing simultaneously because of something we are calling intergenerational Justice”

“And please don’t bring food to these events, I tell you, it makes me sick, once you bring food that’s all they want to talk about, talk about the issues, and if you wear your traditional dress, it’s all over”

“Let’s not try to change each other”

“Here’s a radical idea, personal responsibility, if you want to work with youth, take responsibility and go work with youth”

“As a white person, I go through the same stuff! What about the rural poor?”

“Motion to adopt these minutes? Seconder? All in favour? Opposed? Okay done”.

“This is why I am opposed to personal stories, personal stories paralyze us”

“Well, they are not our children”

“We have found in the past that there are problems with that group, last time there was some drinking involved, perhaps you can find another venue? Maybe a Neighbourhood Association”

“They are known a problem gardeners”

“Make sure they will actually want to garden”

“If you find yourself repeating some of those unhealthy patterns that you grew up in, then you probably need to do some soul searching”

“The Camp Fanis! The Refugee Camp! There are no problems here, don’t talk about problems here in Canada”

“It was said at the meeting, 'she is just trying to get paid’”

“I was put in solitary confinement, I expected to find scary people in prison, somehow I would feel better if the people were scary and bad. It was just the mentally ill and people with substance abuse issues”.

“If they act like thugs, they will be treated like thugs”

“Tim Horton’s, McDonald’s, those jobs are just for the white kids”

“Maybe you watched the Royal Wedding, it’s okay if you did, it is an important part of our culture”

“It’s not that they don’t hire minority youth, it’s the way they write their resumes”

“We heard that some employers were afraid of hiring immigrants, they were afraid of saying the wrong thing around the office, and getting sued”

“We are proud of our Fanis”

“You will hurt yourself”

“If I have to put this kid with me in a cardboard box, I am not afraid of poverty, I will see this thing through”

“They have no idea what I have already lost, they can’t starve me out”

“The Holy art of giving for Jesus’ Sake ought to be much more strongly developed among as Christians, never forget that all state intervention for the poor is a blot on the honour of your Saviour . . .It is perfectly true that if no help is forthcoming from elsewhere the state must help, we may let no one starve from hunger as long as bread lies moulding in so many cupboards and when the State intervenes it must do so quickly and sufficiently”

“You can vent if you want to and I will let you do that, but we both know that you are going to keep going, that you are not done”

“I mean, I’m not sure how I would benefit from this”

“We are the one's we've been waiting for”

“So let’s build this thing from the ground up, nobody is coming to save us”

“Ignorance is a privilege”

“I mean, I’m sick of the complaining immigrant, there are a lot of opportunities here, the way I see it, there are no opportunities back in Africa, and then they come here and start complaining”

“I guess I’m trying to be independent”

“We’re getting cornered from all sides, they don’t want us to help ourselves, they don’t want us to ask for help, they don’t want us to speak out”

“We were brought here to work in factories”

“After all the shit I’ve been through, If I could choose a different life, a life of privilege with a functional family, and have all my primary needs met, and turn out to be an adult who has everything and whose eyes are closed to suffering around me, I would pick my broken life over and over again. It’s made me who I am. I would pick the same for my son. My biggest fear for my son is not that he be poor, or that he suffers but rather that he doesn’t know how to care and how to respond to suffering!"

“We have 300 of our boys from this community at Maplehurst Prison”

“Because of Slavery, some blacks of African descent experience a psychological barrier to farming”

“We are people of the land”

“Out of all the immigrants groups the African immigrants are at the bottom”

“Give the poor legal title to land so they can rise out of poverty”

“There is an unhealthy relationship between the system and the community, the system should declare a conflict of interest”

"The system should serve the community, the community should be self determining"

“I’m done trying to change people’s minds. I’m not here to change anyone’s mind, if they waited for all the slave-masters to change their minds we would still be in slavery”

“I think the central question though, does the federal government have a responsibility towards the poor with regards to the alleviation of poverty? And once you have addressed that central question , what might that look like? . . .the key thing that we are saying in The Call is that the government does have a responsibility with regards to the alleviation of poverty. And I would say that the fundamental argument there is not a constitutional argument, and I say that with due respect to the American constitution because we live here under the Rule of Law and that what we do in this country must be constitutionally warranted… But I would argue that the claim that a National Government has a responsibility with regard to the poor is ultimately and Biblical argument and I think that tramps the constitution, so I think there is a clear imperative in Scripture that those who rule have a responsibility to establish justice for the poor . . .everything should be subject to scrutiny, but it’s not then some kind of blind hustice that you then apply, you have to apply laws, you have to make choices, you have to determine what the priorities are, our argument is that we should give a certain priority for federal programs that effectively address poverty, when those programs can be warranted in terms of this constitutional order, but that the ultimate reason for that is a scriptural responsibility. Rulers have a responsibility to do justice for the poor. I think we would agree on that. What neither the document says nor what I am in this setting wanting to elaborate is what that responsibility looks like, because I think that is indeed a prudential question and an extremely difficult question, I have spent now, what? 25 odd years studying this question: What are the responsibilities of government with regards to the alleviation of poverty? And what actually makes a difference? And after 25 years I have very little to say on that question, as does everybody else. We know it’s an imperative, we know we have to do something about it, and we know it’s one of the most difficult challenges that we face”.

“My parents came here as Dutch immigrants and they never worked in their professions either”

“Today when I got on the bus, I felt distinctly accepting for the first time of this place as my home. I mean Grand River Transit, and the bus drivers, they show the beauty of this culture, I am beginning to love Canada because of Grand River Transit”
“They feel entitled to everything that they have, they don’t want know”

“I don’t fit in anywhere, I don’t fit in with ignorant white people anymore and I am not black”

“We have never felt at home in their institutions, they are not our institutions, we can’t fit in, even Canada Day, there are fireworks, and we feel sad and out of place, what are we supposed to say? Happy Steal Our Land Day?”

“The only way to begin to contain this thing called European culture is to begin to name it, to other it, to put limits around it”

“Christian schools seem to be producing “salt of the earth” citizens who provide the backbone of communities, are the pillars of their churches, and are living lives of purpose and hope. Fears that religious schools are the incubators of social unrest, producing a generation of culture warriors, seem to be largely unfounded"

“We must cut debt, we must care for the poor, we must do these thing simultaneously because of something we are calling intergenerational Justice”

“Grant me an upright heart that no perverse intention can lead astray, an invincible heart that no disaster can overcome”

“I want to be like you and like the Church Fathers, I want to be like St. Francis of Assisi and to be fearless in the face of poverty, I want courage and faith. I want to be at peace with feeling misunderstood, but where I lose all hope, is times when I feel that you have left me, that you Jesus Christ have left my home and heart”

"Open my eyes that I might see wonderful things in your Law"

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